Serres, Dominick & John Thomas.


Scolar Press facsimile ed., 1979. Ix + 27 (text) + 41 (plate) pp. 41 plates (some sepia). Qtr. blue cloth ; lighter blue cloth boards ; gilt with gilt 'cannon' to front board. 46 x 33cm (18" x 13"). Part of front joint worn o/w V.G. & internally Nr.FINE. Liber Nauticus was published in two parts, the first in 1805 and the second in 1806, both parts are included here. Dominick Serres, R.A., and his son John Thomas Serres, were both marine painters to the Crown, but it is the father, Dominick, who is chiefly remembered and his important plates form the second part. In the First Part, J. T. Serres's aim was to illustrate the essentially practical aspects of the art of marine painters and draughtsmen. He draws and describes with great charm and exactitude the components of ships of Nelson's Navy with details of their construction and ornamentation as well as the 'ship and the sea' ' the latter drawn and described in all its moods. The Second Part with the finer plates was intended as a collection of typical or genre sea-pieces, leading the reader to an appreciation of the elements of marine painting. Original copies of these two books (each published under separate covers) are now very scarce. Dominick Serres was born at Auch, Gascony, in 1722 and all his four children became artists in their own right. He ran away from his native town and found his way to Spain. There he joined, as a seaman, a ship bound for South America, and in the course of time learnt the art of seamanship and became Master of a vessel trading to Havana. During the war of 1752 he was taken prisoner by an English frigate and brought to England. Released on parole he began to earn a living as an artist and liked the country so much he settled down here. On the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1768, Dominick was chosen as a foundation member and became its Librarian in 1792. He died a year later and is buried in St. Marylebone Church. John was appointed marine draughtsman to the Admiralty in 1793 and his duties included spying on the French and sketching coastal installations along their coasts. The influence of Liber Nauticus is difficult to judge today and the number of copies produced is unknown. What it gives us is an 18th century view of their understanding of the art of marine painting before the age of Turner.

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